4 & 6

The Amalgamation of Southampton City Transport’s
4 & 6 Services 1919-1998

The origins of the almost 12 mile 4 & 6 circular routes can be traced back to 11th October 1919 when a service started from the Docks Station, later known as the Terminus Station to Tanners Brook via Royal Pier - Western Esplanade - West Station (now Central Station) over a level crossing (since replaced by a bridge) - Commercial Road and Millbrook Road. It was operated by two Thornycroft open top double deckers. This first venture was not successful and was withdrawn on 28th March 1921. On 15th July 1926 a new service to link the Shirley tram terminus with the tram terminus at Swaythling was introduced and ran via Anglesea Road - Winchester Road and Burgess Road. On the 7th March 1927 another new service commenced between the Clock Tower (at the junction of New Road and Above Bar) to Shirley via Four Post Hill - Millbrook Road and Regents Park Road. A further development was in April 1927 when the Shirley to Portswood route started running from Shirley - Anglesea Road - Winchester Road - Burgess Road - University Road - Welbeck Avenue, and Grosvenor Road, terminating at the depot at Portswood. (It is possible that this service was the original Shirley to Swaythling link, mentioned above, that was diverted at University Road.) On the 14th July 1927 these routes were joined to give a through service from the Clock Tower to Portswood.

The 27th October 1930 saw the introduction of a single deck bus route from Bitterne Park Triangle to Midanbury via Woodmill Lane, acting as a feeder route for the trams at Bitterne Park Triangle, but it was found that more passengers would use the service if they could get to the City Centre without changing, and the service was extended via Midanbury Lane - Bitteme Road - Northam and Houndwell on 27th October 1934. On the 6th June 1940 the service was re-routed from Midanbury Lane and ran via Witts Hill - Cobden Avenue - Cobbett Road and Bitterne Road to Houndwell, and in 1946 the section from Bitteme Park Triangle was altered to run outward via Nursery Road and St Catherines Road and inwards via Manor Farm Road and Nursery Road, but eventually buses ran through Oaktree Road rather than Manor Farm Road. This then was the lead up to our anniversary date of 17th May 1948 when, as a result of the tramway replacement programme, the Transport Department decided that some routes should amalgamate to provide long circular routes, the first of which was the 4 and 6 routes, which is the subject of this commemoration.

After discussion it was decided that the 4 and 6 services would operate an almost 12 mile circular route with the 6 operating clockwise from Houndwell - Regents Park - Shirley - Anglesea Road - Winchester Road - Burgess Road - Bassett Cross Roads – University Road - Shaftesbury Avenue (instead of Grosvenor Road) – Portswood Junction - Bitterne Park Triangle - Midanbury - Witts Hill - Bitteme Brewery - West End Road - Bitteme (instead of Cobden Avenue and Cobbett Road) - Northam and Houndwell. and the 4 to work in the anti-clockwise direction. A minor modification was the permanent diversion from Bassett Cross Roads via Bassett Avenue and Winchester Road to the top of Hill Lane. On some Sunday and evening journeys buses would divert through Dale Road - Tremona Road (for the Borough-now General Hospital) - Warren Avenue - Medina Road and Anglesea Road to Shirley to coincide with visiting times. This was made the permanant route from Sunday 16th March 1975. On Sunday 12th February 1949 services 4/6 and 12 were chosen to test the Ultimate ticket issue machines, and they replaced the Bell Punch machines to become standard equipment throughout the system in 1950. The 4 and 6 routes were converted to One Person Operation with further deliveries of East Lancs bodied Leyland Atlanteans on 3rd October 1971. Again, to coincide with hospital visiting times, some buses were diverted at Hill Lane to run via Lordswood Road - Coxford Road - Tremona Road - Dale Road - Winchester Road - Anglesea Road and Shirley, thus serving both the General and the Childrens Hospitals. The Childrens Hospital was, at this time, located in Winchester Road opposite Wordsworth Road.

4 & 6 Route

To help speed up loading times the 4 and 6 were the first routes to use Videmat ticket machines on 21st April 1974 (visions of 12th February 1949 with the Ultimates). The two routes which had run in tandem for so long were separated in 1988, but still were associated on certain sections and, indeed were merged for evening and Sunday operations.
Southampton Citybus, as the undertaking had now become, was sold to its employees in 1993, and in 1997 was sold to First Group. By 1998 the service 4 ran on the original route from City Centre via - Northam - Bitterne - Midanbury - Bitterne Park Triangle - Portswood then diverted via Swaythling and Burgess Road - Bassett Avenue - Winchester Road - Dale Road - Tremona Road - Winchester Road - Romsey Road - Shirley - Oakley Road - Cumbrian Way - Millbrook Roundabout - Redbridge Roundabout and Totton (Asda), and returning the reverse route still as service 4. When the routes were originally separated the 6 service ran from Shirley - Romsey Road - Winchester Road - Dale Road - Tremona Road (General Hospital) - Coxford Road - Lordswood Road - Winchester Road - Bassett Avenue - Burgess Road - University Road - Welbeck Avenue - Portswood Junction - Bitteme Park Triangle - Bullar Road - Bitterne - Sholing - Butts Road - Weston Lane - Newtown Road - Tickleford Drive - Kingsclere Avenue - Wallace Road - Weston Lane (the reverse direction was Weston Lane and Wallace Road, forming a one way loop on Weston Estate in each direction) - Weston Grove Road - Woolston - Kingsway – St.Marys Road for R.S.H.Hospital - and City Centre.
Various minor adjustments serving the Regents Park (Stanton Road) area and at City Centre were tried at this time but were consolidated when services were linked to the 21 Hospital Lynx service. The service 6 was now connected with service 21, ran from the Royal South Hants Hospital via City Centre - Woolston - Weston - Butts Rd (The Target) (6) or North East Rd (6A) - Bitterne - Bullar Road - Bitterne Park Triangle - Portswood - University - Burgess Road - Bassett Avenue - Winchester Road - Lordswood Road - Coxford Road and General Hospital where it changed to service 21 and ran on the original 4/6 route via Dale Road - Anglesea Road - Shirley - Regents Park - Millbrook Road - Central Station - City Centre and terminates at the Royal South Hants Hospital. The evening and Sunday service 6E, however, combined both the 4 and 6 routes as follows: R.S.H Hospital - City Centre - Woolston - Weston - Butts Road - Bursledon Road - Merryoak (to allow lining up with the 4 route at Bitterne). It then followed the 4 route as above to Winchester Road, then the 6 /6A route to the General Hospital then re-joined the 4 route to Totton (Asda), before returning in the opposite direction again as service 6E.
With subsequent amendments since the take over by First both the 4 & 6 routes became separate, and have today become completely different services which are out of the scope of this dialogue.
Thanks to Terry Knappett for providing this information about routes 4 & 6.